Hot Extraction

Summary:
July 19 2014: Getting Paul out of Turkey doesn't go quiiiiiiite as planned. (Followup Scene to #BringPaulHome)

Outside Yenikoy, Turkey

Hundreds of miles from anywhere much and dozens of miles from anywhere at all, this village is about as far out in the sticks as one gets.


Characters

NPCs

  • Greater Eastern Islamic Raider's Front mortar teams

Mood Music:
[* None]


It really is a small town on the edge of civilized Turkey. Trent is able to pull up whatever they need while they're in flight, thanks to the information from the photos. Sara's restless, swinging between relief that Paul isn't actually dead, and anxiety about just what he is now. Even with SHIELD tech, it's a long flight from New York, but eventually they'll get there.

"South side of town, he said," Sara says, stirring from her seat. "He should be keeping an eye out, he'd know how long it'd be likely to take."

*

"SHIELD Quinnjet landing is pretty obvious in these parts." Jericho says from his place near the rear ramp. It's sort of a habit that spot, being where you'd expect an E-6 to be before his squad jumped. "Fan out and look? Or do you have some kind of signal?" The hacker's wondering if it's worth the trouble to get airborne himself. He's not as big as a Quinnjet, but a guy with wings of light is pretty obvious too and Paul's seen him do that before. He's scanning for electronic signals or notices that might give some hint as to where exactly Paul is.

*

Hawkeye is actually a reasonable pilot. Sure, he likes to play a little at the controls, but if anything, it means he's ready for evasive in case it's necessary. And, this takes care of his yearly quota of flight time required to maintain his license. And it means that May isn't flying. A win-win-win across the board as far as he's concerned!

Entering Turkish airspace is easy enough, but it is true. Parking an aircraft is a little tricky when roads in the area are goat and cow paths. No Byzantine roads here.

Once down, he powers down the engines, but someone has to stay with the plane. Unbuckling, Barton grabs his equipment and climbs to the top of the 'plane. "I'm good. Check in in 30, then 30."

*

"About as subtle as a bat to the face," Hill flatly seconds Jericho's remark. Selecting a pair of suitably large and nasty sidearms for her holsters, she adds "Ask me if I give a damn sometime."

She had made sure everyone involved was properly outfitted with a communicator on the flight out here, it'll mean less of a headache for her later. "Home team, you're on scanners. Anything comes within a quarter mile that isn't one of ours I want to know about it. Thermal and echo sweep, he's probably got himself isolated. We find him and we get the hell out, I'm not expecting unpleasantness but I'm not about to wait for it to find us. Remember that we aren't here to pick a fight, people. Let's not turn this into an international incident."

Yeah, spoken -after- she arms herself. Always be prepared for the worst.

*

Melinda May is seated near Trent, and despite having been mostly silent the entire flight she seems increasingly grumpy. Maybe it's because Barton yoinked the car keys and she's stuck passenging. Or maybe it's because they're headed into an area that's known to be less than friendly to collect a man that — according to Pezzini — was dead. There are just too many variables. And she dislikes variables. Scott was enough randomness for her day, having poofed out to 'go search' and not bothering to take any secure way to get back in touch with them. When she gets a hold of him again…

She's unbuckled and standing the moment the vehicle has settled, tapping on the comm unit in her ear once to make sure it's working and to acknowledge Barton's words. She shoulders a small daypack with the change of clothes brought for Manning and exits the plane first, looking around to see if anyone or anything in the area looks even vaguely suspicious.

*

As Trent pointed out, a quinjet landing is pretty obvious. Paul told Sara he'd be waiting south of town and that's exactly where he is. He was dozing, in fact since he assumed it would be at least five or six hours till someone showed up. But when he hears the jet, he climbs back to his feet and walks out into a clearing to see where it landed.

*

"Paul's smart, he'll have something up, or a place he can watch for us," Sara says as she steps out of the jet. "But he should have something I've been in contact with. I might be able to get a feel for it." She doesn't arm herself; she doesn't really have to. Once she's outside, the Witchblade forms around her right hand, a sharp-edged, jeweled gauntlet that she holds out in front of herself like a dowsing rod as she walks.

*

Jericho quirks an eyebrow at Sara and - once again - does his level best to ignore Hill as they exit the jet. He'd got less than a clue where Paul could actually be, so it seems like searching might be the order of the day. His traces flush bright amber - though only the one on his arms and chest are visible, the denim of his jeans is thick enough to block the light - and his eyes similarly become orbs of colored light as the polymorpher enhances his vision. The wings usually follow… and will shortly, just as soon as everyone figures out what direction they're going. Meanwhile he sweeps his gaze about the Turkish countryside.

"Ollie ollie oxen free…" He murmurs mostly to himself.

*

Once on the top of the aircraft, Clint's crouching, bow out, arrow nocked. Sunglasses are put on, and he's sentry. There's no one getting through, or it'll be over his dead body (as much Hill would enjoy it, and May would get to fly home. Win-win for them…).

*

Jetlag. -Not- an agent's best friend. Hill had already been building quite the lovely headache for herself before things ever got this far out. Already she's back to pinching the bridge of her nose. At least no one's questioned her leadership yet. Then again, having something she could punch would probably help her mood.

The Witchblade coming out to play has the Deputy Director stopping and -staring,- she hasn't witnessed this trick before. Not first-hand. Metahumans are already a mixed bunch of nuts, but Sara -had- been human before finding that device, right? "I'm surprised the chief doesn't have a bigger problem with you being in possession of that device."

She's not even going to bother questioning Jericho and his peculiar tricks. He wouldn't listen, anyway. Instead she sticks by Pezzini, both because she'd have the best idea on how to track down her partner and that the detective is Hill's responsibility (and potential liability) during this little field trip. "Right. Do your thing with the thing."

*

Melinda May waits for Trent to do his glowbug trick, sticking next to him and letting Pezzini and Hill range ahead. "Keep an ear on local chatter, Trent. Just in case." Then she's donning her own sunglasses and taking a couple of steps forward as if expecting the cyborg to follow like some kind of electric light otterhound.

*

The terrain's too hilly and there's too much ground cover for Paul to spot the quinjet. He needs higher ground. Fortunately, there's plenty of that. Running, he leaps for a low branch in one of the trees and pulls himself up. That's the hardest part; climbing higher and higher is just a question of moving from branch to branch, pausing every so often to see if he can spot the jet and then continuing upward to check again. Eventually, he spots a glint of metal not too far away. It should be the jet.

*

"The chief doesn't really get a say," Sara grimaces to Hill, continuing away from the jet. "Sorry, I figured you'd all read whatever file you've got by now," she says when she notices the look. "It's called the Witchblade, it's some sort of cosmic balance between dark and light, and it's got a mind of its own, is sort of the short version. The mind of its own is the complicating factor. It chooses a bearer. It's picky, though, and it's never done testing you. It's not that it wants a bearer that can't control it, as it wants to make sure you can. Worthy of it." There's a beat, as she changes directions. "It's a real pain in the ass."

*

Bright wings made of amber light sprout from Jericho's shoulder blades, stretching up for a moment before he pulls them down to hang at his back. That's about the most obvious he can get without… going into combat mode. Which seems imprudent, especially since no one present has actually seen him do it. Still, if for some reason Paul doesn't find the jet, maybe he'll see the winged guy walking around. That's not exactly where his focus is though. Something just flashed across his HUD.

"Yeah, monitoring it. There's a lot of military band radio traffic in the area, though. It just spiked. And… crap, May, someone else is out there transmitting. Less than a mile that way." He says, nodding his head over toward a low ridge.

*

Clint is on the frequency, obviously, and catching the fact there is a spike in chatter, he scans the immediate area, eyes narrowed. Shaking his head slowly, he chimes in, "No visual. Going below for possible telemetry." Which also means that he's closer to going 'hot'.

*

"Reading a file is a lot different from experiencing it," Hill replies to Sara in a low-pitched tone. In regards to it having a mind of its own she passes a sidelong glance, asking "And just how well do you have it under control?" Add this to her ever-growing list of things which she does not wish to be caught off-guard by.

Word on the comms renews her frown in short order. "Fantastic. Just in case we weren't having enough fun already." To Jericho, seeing as he now has -wings- somehow, she calls "Flyboy! Don't take 'em out unless you're planning on using 'em! We don't have time to dither about, -find Manning.- Hawk, you're my eyes back there. I want visual confirmation beyond pings on the scanner if anything's approaching our location." As if he needs to be told as much.

*

Melinda May looks, if possible, even more grumpy after Trent's revealing that they're likely not the only ones out here. Barton is doing the smart thing and using their jet's systems to help suss out what's going on, but sometimes plain old eyesight is the order of the day. "Take lookout on the top of the jet," she tells the now-winged cyborg, and turns to approach the other two women. "Time's running out. Any leads yet, Pezzini?"

*

Normally, going down is even easier than going up but Paul's diet has been scarce lately. Raiding a stranger's fridge one night doesn't make up for a couple days of near fasting. Still, he gets down to the ground and starts double timing his way toward where he thinks the jet is.

*

"Better than most have," Sara answers Hill, following some unseen sense up toward the ridge line. "It hasn't bailed on me in the middle of a fight in a while. Picked up a couple new tricks in the last few months. The only time it gets tough is when we're looking at something that doesn't belong in this world. It gets this…overwhelming rage to it. It wants to destroy whatever that is. And then it's my job to minimize the collateral damage." At May's question, she turns again, tipping her chin toward one ridge. "I'm getting a little resonance in this direction, ah…" She leans over to get a look at Hill's equipment. "Twelve degrees east of you."

*

Jericho's idea of 'lookout atop the jet' is actually pulling himself into a hover about thirty meters above it, which is enough to get him a look over that ridge… right at the people about three quarters of a mile away, kneeling down next to some tubes on tripods and… dropping something down them. Oh crap. He knows what those are.

"Mortar teams! You've got incoming!" Jericho calls into the comm. "Hawkeye they may try to bracket the jet."

*

Climbing forward over gear, Hawk flips the com, "Okay," before he flips it off once again. With a couple of easy strokes, he checks the pings on the screen, checks location, velocity, and the database gives a nice readout of who and what they could be.. and what sort of armament they could have.

Barton grabs a pair of binoculars, and with a final glance at the screen, he transfers the data to his phone and climbs back out and up on top of the aircraft to perch, bow never far from his hands. Now, however, the Hawkeye has a boost, and checking in the direction the pings showed, he focusses in. They're far… far… but they are on the approach.

"Got the pings, and have long-range visual. Current track…"

Catching the radio traffic, followed by the shouts by Jericho, Hawkeye slides down off the back of the jet and into the hold, barreling into the cockpit. The engines roar into life, and once the VTAL engines shift, giving him some semblance of lift, he calls over the radio, "Contact. We have contact. Going hot." The coordinates are sent through, just for those on the ground that have the ability to calculate…

*

Better than most. "Well thank God," Hill mutters. "-In a while.- That's comforting." (Overwhelming rage and wanting to destroy the source, sounds like whenever I have to deal with the Director.) "So in a nutshell you're telling me that it's inherently unstable."

Wait. Mortars - "-Mortars?-" Hill suddenly barks into her comm. "What the -bloody hell- are mortars being positioned for! Get the bird off the ground -now,- we're not losing our ride home over this shit!" Hawkeye's already on it, too. There's reasons why she keeps the guy on the team.

"Anyone stupid enough to attack us can do without their knees. You," she presses while staring back at Sara. "-Find your partner.-" As if THAT needs to be said. All the same, she's got her own team on the line for one New York cop. Any loss on her side is completely unacceptable.

"Eyes peeled, everyone! This is about to get messy."

*

Melinda May turns to look as the Barton gets their bird back into the air. She and Sara and Hill have quite literally zero for proper cover. "Trent, can you, I don't know, jai alai those mortars back at their owners?" She looks at Hill and points in the direction that Sara said she's got a ping. It's their best chance of getting clear of any potential explosions.

*

A Jericho hovering about a hundred feet in the air does make for a good navigation aid and Paul starts running toward him. "HEY!" he shouts. "Over here!" And then the quinjet takes off and he comes to a stumbling halt. "Sonofabitch."

*

"You know Joan of Arc?" Sara answers Hill's question with one of her own. "Witchblade." And then there's talk of mortars, and she doesn't really wait for orders to go and get her partner. There's no need for stealth now, not with ammo incoming. "PAUL! GET YOUR ASS OVER HERE SO WE CAN GET HOME!" she shouts, taking off at a dead run toward where she felt that slight tug. As she runs the Witchblade spreads, armor forming around her in a protective shield.

*

Paul's shout amid all the chaos catches Jeri's attention. "Partner on your two-o'clock, Sara." He calls down perhaps unnecessarily as she's already moving in that direction.

"You want me to play catch with mortars?" Jericho sighs and positions himself to deflect the nearer of the two. Three mortars, no way he'll be able to chuck them all back unless they happen to politely fire in sequence. "This is why you should have let me keep my gun."

One wing slap and a mortar goes hurling back into the ridge, kicking up a plume of earth. The other two land off target, assuming they were targeting the quinjet. That's not gonna last long though. Good thing Hawk's already got it moving.

*

One thing that Barton has learned over the years is that his weapon is NOT a megaphone, regardless of weapon. Those in his sights usually have had ample time to consider their choices and to choose wisely. After that? As far as he's concerned, the moment the aircraft is fired upon, or even threatened, he's more than happy to open up. It's just a matter of how much overkill? Eh.. 20mm is good enough for the time being.

With the *thoomp*BOOM*thoomp*BOOM* of the mortars that got through, Clint calls out to Jericho, "Get in here.." The back hatch can conveniently open. "I got this…" is murmured, and as the aircraft lifts, it looks almost as if it's in a ballet. With the stick back, he's making corrections all the time until he's got them locked on his screen. Now, boys… I can find you from anywhere in the world.

In the next second, the loud, staccato sound of an aircraft gun rises in the country air, and the trail leads right to the mortars and their operators. "Why can't you guys ever make this easy?"

*

Hill passes May a glance and a nod when the agent points out the direction, letting May have the benefit of taking point so that Hill can keep an eye on the rest of the team, and try to cover their six. She's also wincing as Sara puts her voice to proper use, though at least it feels like something akin to them making progress. Jericho calls out the direction and, it would seem, they're finally pushing forward with this crazy rescue op.

"I really doubt a plastic Colt is going to save the day, Trent!"

What makes her grin, though… It's a truly malicious, bloodthirsty sort of grin. The rhythmic concussion of a twenty millimeter cannon cutting loose from several hundred meters away. She -knows- that sound.

It's the sound of victory.

Now they just need their plus one. "MANNING, bus is leaving with or without you!"

*

Melinda May does indeed lead the way, running full-tilt away from where those mortars hit. The concussive force of the two rounds that hit are enough to make her stumble, but not enough to knock her to the ground. As soon as they've made it to a hopefully safe distance away, she stops and turns to try and locate Trent again. The guy IS kind of a trouble magnet.

&

Wait, is that? "SARA?" Paul calls. "OVER HERE!" He starts running again toward where he last saw the quinjet then instinctively dives for cover at the familiar sound of mortars going off. Incoming! After a few moments, he realizes they're not targeting him directly and he starts moving forward again though staying low to the ground.

*

Sara gets a burst of speed, though it's as much her own as anything augmented by the Witchblade, as she hears Paul's shout. "Can we skip the part where we have to go back to Hell?" she pants as she skids up next to him, taking a quick look around to make sure there aren't any more mortars actually landing around them. "I've got Paul," she reports back to the jet. "We're coming back the way we came, on our way!"

*

"Cause playing jai alai with eight-eights is totally the superior option there…" Jericho mutters as he lands back inside the Quinjet and makes his way over to the rescue winch. He's got a bruise on his jaw now and a fairly nasty looking burn on his right cheek and temple.

"Hooking up for extraction." He calls over as Hawkeye eliminates the threats rather admirably. Those not killed by twenty milimeter cannon fire are sent scattering. Gotta love air supremacy.

Well gotta love it until the Turkish Army unit nearby begins painting the aircrift with surface to air RADAR.

"We might wanna get out of here before we have to explain to the Turkish Air Force why we lit off ordinance in country. Looks like that army unit to our east is getting a little antsy." The hacker notes dryly as lowers the harness so Hawk doesn't have to land or fry their friends with the Quinjet's turbines.

*

Oh hell yes. The return fire is probably not expected, or at least not so quickly anyway. When the bullets hit, it's not a really pretty sight. The area gets peppered with death from above. Happily, the aircraft is rather good at ground defense, what with its armor and hardpoints. (Not the most comfortable over long distances, but they only need -so- long. If need be, they'll stop on the carrier deployed in the Med and take a proper flight home. RHIP, after all.)

Flipping a switch for heat registers, Hawk is keeping track of boots on the ground after the first swipe. He'd much rather be looking first person, but for the time being, he's got to do it this way.

Pivoting the aircraft around, it's time to start the pickups, and he's got to do it quickly.

*

(Duck and cover. Rain of debris. Ringing in ears. Difficulty breathing. It passes.) As it passes Maria can hear someone else yelling for Sara. Bingo, there's Paul! Quickly standing and not bothering to dust herself off she sprints after Sara and May, already back on the radio. "Ground team, we've made contact," she repeats after Sara. Then she adds "Screw that, original LZ's hot! Hawkeye, get done driving 'em into the dirt then recall to our location for extraction!"

Signal flares are too obvious. Hill gets out into the clearing and hauls out a small but powerful flashlight, using it to flag down their bird. It's a simple trick, and it works. Any port in a storm can still benefit from a proper lighthouse.

*

Melinda May hears Sara call out and finally sees Manning. Finally. Hill's already shouting for Barton to pick them up so she doesn't have to do the shouting herself. Instead she drops the back from her back and pulls out a pair of harnesses like the one Trent is already dropping to them from the jet. "Put these on. Now." The faster everyone's off the ground, the faster they'll get clear of this damned dustbowl of a country.

*

"Who the hell is firing on us?" Paul asks. Reunions can wait till they aren't under attack. Keeping a hand on Sara's elbow as if she's the one needing the rescue, he sprints in the direction she came from. "You brought SHIELD? We going to get the Turkish air force too?"

*

"I have no idea," Sara answers Paul, taking a harness and passing one to Paul before taking one for herself. So not the time to argue about who goes when. These people are the professionals here. "And yes, I brought SHIELD, I didn't know anyone else who could get you out of Turkey without a passport, or money, or any of those normal things. Also, I like them."

*

"Hook up in tandem." Jericho calls out. "Two lifts and we're out of here. NYPD first." Once the winch is hooked up Jericho hits the switch to bring it back up to the Quinnjet before sending it back down again for the other two on ground.

"Hawk, we've got MiG's scrambling from Cigli. Hope you speak Turkish or this thing moves fast. I think someone's getting a little twitchy with these separatists around." True SHIELD technically has permission to be here, but permission does not protect you from overzealous MiG pilots or SAM operators.

Once everyone is secured Jericho moves back to the back of the Quinnjet, wings out just in case deplaning for a Kush redux becomes necessary.

*

"This is when I wish we had Widow. I… think she speaks Turkish." Probably. Maybe. Never came up before, truthfully, and with any luck, it won't again. Unless the pair get sent on assignment. Barton glances behind him as Aspect gets the harness ready and nods, adding the warning for moving, "Proceeding to pick up location.. hold on." No flipping out the back, even with wings!

Barton cues up his mic and answers Hill, "Roger that. Have you on visual," as well as his screen, but he knows they -both- trust his eyes over blips. "Coming in." Calling back once again, he adds to to Aspect, "On their call, let's get 'em up so we can get the hell out of here."

Jericho's got everything in hand, and the moment everyone is on board, Hawkeye's ready for some evasive action. Radioing on a separate frequency, he's got his voice canted a little lower for his radio communication. "Seventy-seven, this is SHIELD, Special Agent Barton, Charlie Bravo nine. Coming out of Turkish airspace, have trails. Could you give us a hand, please?"

Barton glances at Hill, and there's a -look- given to the DepDir before the return communication comes in his ear. Nodding his head, the archer turned pilot calls out, "Hold on, kiddies. Be a little bit of a bumpy ride, but soon enough, we'll see home." Home, as in CVN 77. Acres of sovereign American 'soil' in the middle of the Med.

*

Competent agents. Hill almost forgot what those were like. She likewise puts the airlift webbing to use, though she can still multi-task. In this case she can get herself ready for a remote pickup while still being bitchy. "This isn't your operation, Trent. You're on surveill - MiGs. They've got… awesome."

Regardless of who calls it she's still going to insist that Paul and Sara are the first ones back into the jet. "Everyone up and in! Hawk, soon as you see the ramp close go to full burn, don't leave them anything but vapor." His comment about Widow speaking Turkish taints her next response over the radio slightly, "I'm pretty sure that's level ten intel. Best keep thinking."

She'll be the last one into the jet and the last one to claim a seat, pulling herself toward the helm with a deathgrip on the hand railing overhead. "So much for keeping a low profile. Get us out of here."

*

Melinda May doesn't argue as everyone is piled into the jet post haste. She does offer Trent a nod of thanks as he again proves (well, not to Hill apparently, but to everyone else) that he is very much capable of working in a team.

Once the detectives are both strapped in (because this jet is NOT a passenger tub, one sharp bank and people WILL hit the walls), she rummages around in that pack of hers again then offers Manning a bottle of water and a protein bar. Not exactly a gourmet meal, but better than nothing, right?

*

"So do I." Paul admits to Sara. "Hill reminds me of my Lieutenant back in Bosnia. Except with tits and not as hot." He goes up with Sara then unclips and waits by the hatch to help the others in. For a dead man, he looks pretty good. Though the pants he's wearing aren't supposed to be capris and they're tight enough they can't be buttoned. His shoes are layers of tarp wrapped around his feet and bound with twine. Most obvious though is the ornate, silver, patriarchal cross hanging around his neck from a silver chain. Sara will recognize it instantly. He makes his way forward and straps in, taking the food and water from May with a nod of thanks before wolfing down the food in three bites.

*

Sara would normally protest going in first, but this is clearly not the crowd for it. Besides, they're doing her a favor. She can follow orders for once in her life. She doesn't waste any time strapping in once they're aboard, either, in the interest of not getting rattled around too much. Only then does she take a long look at Paul, letting out a heavy breath. "So take that, IA."

*

Hawkeye hits the burners and makes his way to the rendezvous point where they meet up with aircraft escort from the CVN-77, the George Bush. Flying in, the archer rolls his shoulders and can't help but grin. "You do know I re-upped my CQs, right?" He can land on a regular carrier and one of the Helicarriers. "Child's play." Juuuust have to line it up just so. (Yes, he's playing. He could go right in and land, but hooking it? Hell of a lot more fun!)

In Barton goes, lining up, and at full speed, the middle wire is grabbed and inertia will push everyone forward as the aircraft goes from 300 to 0 in the span of 3 seconds.

"God, it's been a long time!"

Waiting to taxi to a spot, finally, they can unharness, deplane and get some food.. and should be home within the day.

*

Aaand once Maria's lunch has decided to settle back down where it belongs…

"We're in a VTOL, you dolt. A little consideration for those of us that -aren't- trained in carrier landings?" More said on behalf of the two NYPD'ers in the back, everyone else should be able to handle it alright. Jericho she's not really caring about one way or the other.

Back to the comms, she calls in "Hill on deck, we need a med team out here. Keep eyes on radar, we may have picked up a tail or two back there."

(And breathe.)

Slowly hooking a hand onto the back of Clint's seat, the DepDir leans closer to tell the archer/pilot "Hope you had your fun. It's going to be a while before you do this again."

The carrier landing, that is. She'll still happily throw him into some other hellhole around the globe to deal with indirect fire.

*

Melinda May growls. Out loud. That rough a landing is NOT necessary, and May KNOWS it. Wait, does this mean that she and Hill AGREE on something? Can't be! Well, she's not going to mention it out loud so the others can think what they will of her being even more crankypants than usual. Once the jet has finally come to a full stop she's unbuckling and standing again to look at Trent more closely.

"You're doing to let the medics clear you." And no, there is no room for debate there. She then turns to look at the two detectives while waiting for the exit ramp to finish doing its thing to let them all out.

*

Once clear of Turkish airspace Jericho had switched off his polymorpher and buckled back in opposite Paul, this being the nearest available seat. There's a faint whiff, for those able to detect such things, of the demonic. The carrier landing is… well he's not done this in a while. He was Army after all and even in SOAR they didn't operate from carriers often. That's a SEAL thing, really.

May's insistence that he get checked out by the medics makes him sigh a bit. "It's just feedback from the mortar impact on my wing." He says quietly, unbuckling, but not moving to get out of the jet juuuuuust yet.

*

Once Paul finished the protein bar, he actually dozed off on the short flight till the abrupt landing jarred him awake. He blinks sleepily to get his bearings then focuses on Trent opposite him. There's a snapping of the seat restraints as he stands up except it's not exactly Paul. Larger, wider, coal black with glowing fiery eyes and rivulets of fire crawling over his skin, he reaches for Jericho's throat. "You stink of demons." he says. Then "Stop that."

The arm stops short of Trent's throat and shakes a moment before Paul reappears and he takes a deep breath. "Why do you stink of demons?"

*

Sara buckled in for a reason, so while she's jostled by the landing, she at least doesn't get hit too hard. And besides, still in no place to complain. "Whoa!" she exclaims when Paul starts to change, springing out of her seat to get between him and Trent, one hand gauntleted.

"So, that's going to take some getting used to." She gives her partner a long look, gaze dropping to his new bling, then looks over her shoulder at Jericho. "You should get some distance."

*

Clint unbuckles his own harness, and at Hill's sotto words, he can't help but grin lopsidedly. It's the little things in life, truly.

Spinning around in his seat to gain his footing, there's that … shift in demeanor, and he takes a step back, hand reaching for his sidearm once again. "I.. think we really need to call security.." is said softly. The weapon is up, though finger is out of the guard. For now.

*

Just when she thought it was all over… Hill stands, turns around, sees something that does not belong, and has a large caliber sidearm unholstered and leveled at the creature that had once been Paul Manning. "Stand down, -now!-"

She barely gets the chance to issue the demand when the demonic form reverts..back into Paul Manning… She's still in silent agreement with Clint (which is shocking in its own right,) and instead of suggesting the notion is already back on the comms. "Add a security team, single meta positive, unknown abilities."

Never pulling her laser-like attention away from the guy, she snaps out "What the Hell was that, Manning? What happened to you back there, and what the -Hell- did you invite back onto my carrier?" She's just going to keep her Big Scary Gun pointed at him for now, thank you.

*

Melinda May reacts almost as fast as Sara, though she instead pulls a pair of military-grade combat knives from … somewhere on her person. When Paul reverts almost as quickly as he went 'ugly', she lowers the blades but not her guard. This is clearly something Pezzini hasn't seen before either, and that's … concerning. And where the HELL is Grayson?

*

If Jericho had a gun, he'd have gone for it already. Crap that thing moves fast. In the space between something big and molten lunging at him and Paul getting himself under control, his traces have flushed bright blue and he's scooted himself as far against the wall as possible. Only Paul's sudden shift back to himself prevents him from wolfing out.

"Why do I smell of demons? Says the man who just got back from hell?!”

He takes Sara's advice and edges up toward the cockpit and side door. Okay, not the most helpful or civil answer but May if no one else should be familiar with Jericho's fright reaction being snark.

*

Paul looks from gun to gun and holds his hands up though more in a 'peace' gesture than 'I surrender'. He sits back down to make himself less threatening.

"He's safe." he tells Sara. "It just caught me unaware. It's not really like yours." To the others, he says "That is the Rapture." Reaching up, he graps the cross. "It doesn't like demons but it's not exactly a…" Now how the hell to explain things. "…a bad boyfriend." he finishes, his lips curling wryly. "Help me out here?" he asks Sara. "You know more about this than I do."

*

"You do have something clinging to you," Sara notes academically to Trent. "It's not much, just the sort of thing that…Like hearing sirens in the distance. For me."

When Paul explains, she takes a deep breath, looking to the others. "That's how we got him back. I don't know much about it. It's an artifact, sort of like the Witchblade. It's got something to do with Hell, and demons. There was a demon who was after it, so I'm assuming it gives some sort of power or control there. On the light to dark scale - which I'll emphasize is not a good to evil scale - it's on the dark side. It's been in the keeping of the Catholic church lately. I don't know yet what it means for Paul to have it, but I know what it means for something evil not to have it, and it's mostly that we all get to keep living here on this planet that is not Hell on earth."

*

Aaand, here comes the security detail, surrounding the back of the jet. Barton nods towards the back, his weapon not lowered. Not yet. (Dammit, why is he acting like Hill?) "G'head, Manning. We'll figure this out." And if they can, help. "You're still going home." Promise.

Finally, when Paul slowly sits down, Barton relaxes, but those blues don't come off the man. "Okay…" he begins slowly. "Good thing you're a good guy, right?" The SHIELD agent -likes- the guy, he does. Would trust him on his six. But… damn. "Let's get home, and we'll all talk about this and maybe can figure this out."

*

Oh, goodie! Even more powerful 'things' that are apparently of-this-world-yet-not. Hill isn't so convinced. She's not sure that she can trust Sara with her 'Witchblade' problem. She's feeling even less trust toward Paul, particularly in that this all seems to be quite new to him. And everyone else. She's slow to let her weapon down, though she, too, doesn't lower her guard. "You might want to get that checked out, Manning. As in 'soon,' before Rapture comes for us all. Jeezus you two, seriously."

True, they're useful people. They are, in fact, fairly decent people, as far as decent people can go. They're just… you know. Possessed. By demonic entities. Or something.

Very decisively holstering her sidearm, Hill says "Make sure these two don't flip out over anything else, God help us all of Manning's new pet turns out to be hydrophobic. I've got a Captain to touch base with."

*

The light in Trent's traces fades and the faint harmonic hum that accompanies it does so as well. The hacker sighs and rubs his temple. Then winces. Burns. Ow.

"I have a good friend who has a… situation. I probably picked it up from her." Well… not probably. He's absorbing magic by touch and quite happy that neither Sara nor Paul has actually come into contact with him because 'I'm told that my cybernetic implants are eating magic' is not something he wants to try to explain. Also, there's a demon of gluttony in one of his safe houses. Unrelated. Ish. Okay, totally related.

"Unless she drops by to introduce herself though, that's all I'll say. She doesn't need the headache."

*

Paul shakes his head instantly after Sara talks. "No, it's not on the dark side." he corrects, sounding quite sure about that.

"I don't know much about it but I can feel that. It's neither light nor dark. Nor balance, for that matter. Unless you count not liking demons which would put it on the light side, I'd think? I don't know. But I do know why every demon wants it. It lets the bearer come and go from hell whenever they want. Which is how I got out." he adds to the others but turns back to Sara. "Imagine if Etrigan could come to Earth whenever he wanted. That was the entire point of everything that happened."

Standing, he nods to Hawkeye. "Going home would be very nice." But it's going to take more than SHIELD to figure it all out.

*

Melinda May stows her knives again and gestures for Manning and Pezzini to exit the jet so they can all stop being cooped up in this damned flying bucket. She also looks at Trent, because she did not miss that wince. "Medical first." The security team can just follow them like puppydogs following a toddler carrying a sandwich.

*

Possessed is such a strong word. Sara is totally not possessed. "No one's flipping out," she assures Hill, though there's a look to Paul as well. "Trust me, you'd know if there was flipping out. If that's the worst that happened a day and a half after he got the thing, we're all going to be just fine. I'll be happy to give you all the full story, you can see if it makes any more sense to you," she says, linking arms with Paul to start down the ramp.

*

And, Clint stays with the jet, helping secure the lines and shut down the systems. It'll sit through at least one maintenance cycle, get refuelled, then they'll be on their way home. That comes with the keys, after all. Only once that's done will he find the mess hall and grab something to eat. (The Navy has the -best- food.)


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